To view 5 images of artwork with descriptions for the Loyola exhibit by Claudia Pontarelli-Hallissey, click on the link below. —. click Claudia Pontarelli-Hallissey images and reflections
The text without the images
My mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2001 quickly but beautifully. While I mourned her loss, ironically, right at that same time, I felt besieged by some other tragic events that seemed far worse than my mother’s death. The pain was unbearable, perhaps heightened by my loss of her. My heart screaming in pain turned to Psalm 6 in desperate prayer.
Lord, do not reprove me in your anger: punish me not in your rage. Have mercy on me, Lord, I have no strength; Lord, heal me, my body is racked; my soul is racked with pain. And you, Lord, how long? Return, Lord, rescue my soul. Save me in your merciful love, for in death no one remembers you; from the grave, who can give you praise? I am exhausted with my groaning; every night I drench my pillow with tears. My eye wastes away from grief; I have grown old surrounded by my foes. Leave me, all you who do evil; for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will accept my prayer. All my foes will retire in confusion, foiled and suddenly confounded.
My father’s death came too soon for me, as we had unfinished business. It was right after St. Joseph’s feast day, and I brought him some goodies at the hospital. For a long time, though he was ill, I never expected him to die. But one day, as I visited him in the hospital room, even as we spoke, I suddenly realized he had very little time left. My senses were heightened, and my presence all-embracing.
I remembered my dad and I sitting on the stoop together passing the time, doing nothing but being with each other.
All of my life I have prayed to the canonized saints who bequeathed to us the spiritual lessons of life. But I also know that my own deceased beloved friends and family have joined them, and I remember their good works and example too. And also, I have living saints, those who give me comfort, make me laugh, help me out and come on time. They are my own present family, friends and even acquaintances or strangers. They too show me God’s love every day.
The Beautiful, Beautiful St. Agatha
In 1993 I had breast cancer, and I had a mastectomy. An aunt sent me a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret. I was so angry, I cried.
St. Agatha was a third century Sicilian martyr. Because she rejected the advances of a Roman senator, she was thrown into a brothel where she was beaten and then imprisoned. She then had her breast cuts off. Ancient art depicts her breasts, which were mistaken as buns, on a platter. Her execution at the stake was interrupted by a volcanic eruption.
Breasts are used commercially as advertising ploys. Agatha and all women are beautiful with or without their breasts.
Mary is an ever-present companion in my life, as she was for my own mother. I collect icons of her because her multifaceted life-callings so represent the various roles of women today and throughout time. But, she is more than a pretty icon. She is not a static symbol, but is a dynamic personality ready to help, comfort, listen …